Former Oceania Cruises passenger Toronto resident, Richard Silver, was aboard the Oceania Insignia a few years ago when the luxury cruise ship’s engine room caught fire.
Two contractors and one Oceania crewmember died in the fire while the cruise ship was docked at Port Castries, St. Lucia. Some passengers who left comments on social media criticized Oceania for the crew’s "confusion, lack of information and misinformation" following the deadly fire.
In a subsequent article, I mentioned observations from Mr. Silver that the passengers were herded through the ship during the fire and into a warehouse at the port where they remained without water for nine hours in high heat and without any information about the fire. Mr. Silver took photographs and video of the bedlam on the ship where elderly passengers were carried off of the ship by other passengers, as well as photographs of a passenger who fell into the water between the dock and ship.
After the ordeal, Mr. Silver eventually returned home to Canada without his luggage, exhausted. He explained to the Canadian press what he experienced. Several Toronto’s newspapers and news stations published Mr. Silver’s photographs and vivid account of the fire and Oceania poor handling of the aftermath. (See top video, below). These images belied Oceania’s press statement that "our top priority is ensuring all 656 guests return home as quickly and comfortably as possible."
Cruise lines like Oceania don’t like bad press. So when Mr. Silver tried to book his next cruise with Oceania on the Sirena last August, he received a phone call from a cruise line representative. As explained by Toronto newspaper Global News, Mr. Silva said that “they told me ‘you’re banned for life.’ Why am I banned? What did I do?” (See bottom video, below).
Oceania reportedly returned Mr. Silva’s money but never answered his inquiries, leaving Silva to believe that he was punished for speaking to the media. Silver also claims that Norwegian Cruise Lines, the parent company of Oceania, and NCL’s subsidiary Regent Seven Seas Cruises, banned him from future cruises.
When the newspaper called Oceania for an explanation, Tim Rubacky, the head of public relations for Oceania Cruises, denied that the cruise line was punishing Mr. Silver but he refused to explain further and repeatedly said that he "can’t and won’t comment."
Cruise lines which act petulantly like this do not limit their retribution to passengers. Crew members who speak to the media or post comments on social media are quickly terminated from their cruise ship jobs. Costa terminated a crew member who posted a video on Facebook when a violent storm broke hundreds of dishes on the Costa Fascinosa. There are many other examples.
Cruise lines rely on carefully crafted images of idyllic vacations at sea to sell tickets. But when passengers or crew members take their complaints to the press or social media, cruise lines often respond vindictively.
Like Vegas, what happens on cruise ships stays on the ships. A passenger or crew member who breaks this unwritten rule will find out that they are no longer welcome on the ship.
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